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    (2012-04-19) Evans, Paige K.; Craig, Cheryl J.; Busch, Steven; Warner, Allen R.; Hutto, Nora
    Evans, Paige K. "A Narrative Inquiry into Teaching Physics as Inquiry: An Examination of In-Service Exemplars." Unpublished Doctor of Education Doctoral Thesis, University of Houston, May, 2011. ABSTRACT Studies show that teachers who have experienced inquiry are more likely to practice the inquiry method in their own classrooms (McDermott, 2007; Olson, 1995; Pereira, 2005; Windschitl, 2002). This study explores changes in science teachers’ personal practical knowledge (Clandinin, 1986) after participating in a graduate level physics inquiry course and subsequent professional development throughout the school year. In addition, teacher participants were studied to determine the roadblocks they encountered when altering curriculum mandates in ways that would enable them to work with the inquiry method. The results of this course and subsequent professional development sessions were analyzed for the benefits of using the inquiry method to teacher learning and to ascertain whether the teacher participants would be more apt to employ the inquiry method in their own classrooms. Moreover, the results of this study were analyzed to inform my personal practice as a leader preparing undergraduate science teachers in the teachHOUSTON program as well as in my continuing work with in-service teachers. An inquiry course may be added to the teachHOUSTON course sequence, based on the discoveries unearthed by this thesis study. This research study is conducted as a narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 1992, 2000; Craig, 2011; Polkinghorne, 1995) where story works as both a research method and a form of representation (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). Narrative inquiry is strongly influenced by John Dewey (1938) who believed that one must rely on past experiences and knowledge to solve current and future problems and that life experience is in fact education. This study inquires into the narratives of two teachers who are teaching secondary science in public schools. These stories illuminate the teachers’ lived experiences as they co-constructed curriculum with their students. The images of teacher as a curriculum maker vs. teacher as a curriculum implementer (Craig & Ross, 2008; Craig, 2010) demonstrate what needs to be taken into account when teachers live physics curriculum alongside their students in physics classroom settings. The exemplars featured in this thesis illuminate teachers’ developing knowledge as they expand their understandings of inquiry in a physics inquiry course undertaken for professional development purposes and their subsequent enactment of science curriculum in their own classrooms with their students as they, too, inquire into physics.
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    (2012-04-19) Bell, Robert; Prater, Doris; Busch, Steve; MacNeil, Angus; Zou, Yali
    In this era of accountability created by federally mandated initiatives, school leaders are still searching for ways to improve schools. Principals must learn to manage schools efficiently while moving classrooms out of the industrial age school model and into a 21st century, technology rich learning environment that enhances student achievement. The purpose of this study was to understand the importance of technology in today’s schools and its impact on principals, counselors, teachers, and students. The study used archival data from a larger survey and focused on understanding principal perceptions of how technology influences their daily roles as school leaders. The 310 principals originally interviewed were from the larger Gulf Coast metropolitan area and were actively serving as the principal of a school at the time they were surveyed. A combination of traditional survey and cognitive interviewing techniques were used to address the questions related to principals’ perceptions regarding the influence of technology on their campuses. Principals were asked to describe the extent technology had made a difference at their school; how it had influenced teachers, counselors, and students; as well as how it had influenced their role as a principal? Four major themes emerged and were identified and given an operational definition of Positive Influence, Moderate Influence, No Influence, and Negative Influence to describe the impact technology had on the different principal’s campuses. The results of the analysis indicated that 62.3% of the principals self-reported that technology had made a positive impact on their roles as principals; in their schools; as well as making a positive impact on teachers, counselors, and students. Of the 35.7% of principals who believed technology had been a negative impact on their campuses, over half of them reported that technology had a negative influence on their role as a principal. If technology is to play a role in developing a project-based, real-world, problem-solving curriculum that equates to student engagement and student achievement in the classroom; these findings indicate that the principal’s perception of technology’s influence plays a key role in that integration occurring at the campus level.
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    (2012-04-19) Chugh, Gaurav; Lokhandwala, Mustafa F.; Asghar, Mohammad; Hussain, Tahir; Prince, Randall A.; Shek, Eugene
    Blood pressure (BP) and oxidative stress increase with aging. Renal dopamine D1 (D1R) and angiotensin AT1 (AT1R) receptors by maintaining sodium homeostasis regulate blood pressure. Impaired D1R and exaggerated AT1R functions in the kidneys contribute to hypertension in animal models, which also exhibit oxidative stress. However, the role of oxidative stress in age-related hypertension has not been studied. In this study, we hypothesized that age-associated increase in oxidative stress by altering renal D1R and AT1R functions cause high BP in aging. To test this hypothesis, we measured oxidative stress, BP, and D1 and AT1 receptor functions in adult (3-month) and old (21-month) Fischer 344 X Brown Norway F1 (FBN) rats supplemented without/with antioxidant tempol. We found age-related increases in oxidative stress and blood pressure; which were reduced with tempol treatment in old FBN rats. D1R and AT1R functions were determined by measuring diuretic and natriuretic responses to SKF-38393 (D1R agonist) and candesartan (AT1 receptor antagonist) respectively. Natriuresis in response to D1R activation was impaired in old rats, suggesting an age-associated decline in D1R function in old FBN rats. Increase in G protein coupled receptor kinase (GRK) expression/activity is associated with reduced D1R-G protein coupling and function in humans and animal models with hypertension. We found age-associated increase in GRK-4 levels accompanied with D1R-G protein uncoupling in the renal proximal tubules of old FBN rats. Tempol treatment reduced GRK-4 levels and restored D1R-G protein coupling in these old rats. Natriuretic and diuretic responses to candesartan; however, were exaggerated in old rats, suggesting an age-associated increase in renal AT1R function in old FBN rats. Age-related increases in angiotensin II-mediated G protein coupling leading to exaggerated Na,K-ATPase activity may have caused increased renal AT1R function observed in old FBN rats. Tempol treatment restored angiotensin II-mediated G protein coupling and Na,K-ATPase response and thus reduced candesartan-mediated natriuresis and diuresis in old FBN rats. Our results demonstrate that both diminished renal D1R and exaggerated AT1R functions are associated with high BP in old FBN rats. Furthermore, oxidative stress may cause altered renal D1R and AT1R functions and high BP in these old rats.
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    Role of Angiotensin II Type 2 Receptor in Blood Pressure Regulation in Obese rats
    (2012-04-19) Ali, Quaisar; Hussain, Tahir; Lokhandwala, Mustafa; Eikenburg, Douglas; Bryan, Robert; Doris, Peter; Salim, Samina
    Renin angiotensin system (RAS) consists of enzymes, hormones, proteins and peptides. Angiotensin II (Ang II) is an important peptide of RAS. Ang II acts via AT1 receptor (AT1R) and AT2 receptor (AT2R). While AT1R is known to cause antinatriuresis and increase in blood pressure, the role of AT2R in renal function and long-term BP regulation is not well defined. Recently our laboratory showed that AT2R are upregulated in the kidney of obese rats and selective activation of these receptors stimulates nitric oxide/cGMP pathway, inhibits proximal tubules Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) activity and increases urinary sodium excretion. In light of those findings, we undertook this project to investigate the role of AT2R in renal function, long-term blood pressure control and interaction with renal AT1R function in obese Zucker rats, an animal model exhibiting hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia and hypertension. Also, we studied the mechanism associated with hyperglycemia induced AT2R upregulation in proximal tubule cells. First, we designed experiment to determine whether AT2R has a protective role in blood pressure increase in obese rats. We treated obese Zucker rats with AT2R antagonist PD123319 (PD) for two weeks and BP was measured. Treatment with PD significantly increased the blood pressure, which was associated with increased renal renin expression in obese rats. This suggested that AT2R protect against increase in blood pressure by keeping renal renin expression low. Then, we designed experiments to determine whether chronic AT2R activation affects Na-balance and lowers BP in obese rats. We treated lean and obese Zucker rats with AT2R agonist CGP42112A (CGP) for two weeks. Two weeks treatment caused a decrease in BP by 19 mmHg and in Na-balance in obese but not in lean rats. The plasma renin activity was significantly decreased in both lean and obese CGP-treated rats. The expression of AT2R, AT1R, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) and renin in the kidney cortex was not affected by the CGP-treatment of obese or lean rats. However, ACE2 expression and activity was significantly increased in CGP-treated obese rats and not in lean rats. These studies suggest that long-term activation of AT2R decreases BP in obese rats. The reduction in BP by AT2R agonist treatment may have been contributed by a decrease in Na-balance and an enhanced expression and activity of ACE2 in renal cortex. In order to determine whether the reduction in BP and decrease in Na-balance might have been contributed by the ability of AT2R to antagonize renal AT1R function in CGP-treated obese rats, we again treated the obese Zucker rats with CGP for two weeks. We performed the renal function study after two weeks under anesthesia. We found that CGP-treatment of obese rats caused reduction in Ang II pressor response and blunted the candesartan-induced natriuresis/diuresis in these rats suggesting that chronic activation of AT2R antagonizes the function of AT1R. Earlier studies from our laboratory suggest that AT2R promote Na-excretion but the contribution of different nephron segments in AT2R-induced natriuresis is not known. We investigated the involvement of proximal tubule AT2R in natriuresis by blocking the two important distal tubule Na-transporters (NaCl cotransporter and ENaC). We found that selective activation of AT2R with a novel AT2R agonist C21 promoted natriuresis predominantly via proximal tubules. We also performed in vitro experiments (HK2 cells) to elucidate the potential signaling mechanism involved in the proximal tubule AT2R upregulation in diabetes/hyperglycemia. In this experiment, we exposed HK2 cells with high glucose with and without IRF-1 siRNA. High glucose increased AT2R expression in HK2 cells and is mediated via transcriptional mechanism involving the transcription factor IRF-1. Collectively, the data suggest that long-term treatment with AT2R agonist attenuates positive Na-balance, lowers renal renin expression, antagonizes the function of AT1R and decreases blood pressure in obese Zucker rats. Moreover AT2R upregulation in response to hyperglycemia may be compensatory mechanism to exert a beneficial role in kidney function. These findings highlight the therapeutic potential of AT2R for treating obesity/diabetes related hypertension.
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    (2012-04-19) Rodriguez, Alexander; Warner, Allen; MacNeil, Angus; Zou, Yali; Ruban, Lilia
    The steady influx of English Language Learners (ELLs) into today’s public school system has led to a myriad of issues concerning bilingual students’ academic performance. Investigating academic performance disparities should examine the reasons why some bilingual students, who are academically successful while they are in a bilingual program, do not perform as well after transitioning into all-English instructional settings when the majority of their peers do. Two research questions addressed the following: (1) determining reasons why students perform well academically while enrolled in bilingual programs but experience performance dips after transitioning into an all-English classroom, and (2) how elementary bilingual and/or ESL teachers' practices, attitudes, knowledge and beliefs regarding English Language Learners relate to their students’ later success in all-English settings. Data were collected through a mix-methods approach. Quantitative data were obtained through a 43-item Likert-scale survey instrument previously developed and validated, supplemented with qualitative, structured, open-ended interviews. The research questions were analyzed using statistical analyses of the survey data using SPSS 17.00 software and qualitative data analysis of the focus groups. Data analysis for survey items was conducted using three separate t-tests to examine differences between two groups of teachers. Demographic variables were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Qualitative data was recorded, transcribed and analyzed into common and overarching themes. Qualitative analysis results show that participants believe the main reasons why students have low academic achievement after transition is related to low proficiency in the area of English as a second language; lack of formal English as a second language instruction, especially in the areas of vocabulary and comprehension; inadequate implementation of the bilingual program model, and students’ early exit. Finally, a previously validated survey instrument was used to explore constructs. The results show no statistically significant difference across teachers’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs toward ELLs.
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    Assistant Principals perceptions: knowledge, skills, and attributes for effective leadership
    (2012-04-19) Vick, Lonnie; Busch, Steven; MacNeil, Angus; Emerson, Michael; Amine, Rayyan
    Vick, Lonnie C. “Assistant Principals’ Perceptions: Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes for Effective Leadership.” Unpublished Doctor of Education Thesis, University of Houston, May, 2011. Abstract Research by Fields (2002) concerning professional development and new administrators found that the role of assistant principal is one of the least researched and discussed topics in professional journals and books on educational leadership. The purpose of this study is to describe and examine the perceptions of assistant principals regarding the knowledge, skills, and attributes needed to be an effective leader. The results of this study will add to the knowledge base of the assistant principal and provide useful information to improve the position of the assistant principal. Recent research indicates that the assistant principal position does not provide the appropriate training or preparation for assistant principals to become principals (Fields, 2002; Goodson, 2000; Mertz, 2000 The current study is a section of a larger multi-phase study called the Principal as a Successful Leader Project (Waxman, 2008) that examined the results from interviewed surveys completed by 383 practicing Assistant Principals from a large metropolitan area in the Gulf Coast region. The survey instrument included three main sections. Section 1 included 22 items for administrators’ background information and school demographics, section 2 includes 62 Likert-scale items, and section 3 consists of 31 open-ended questions. The cognitive interview technique was used in section 3, and this study focuses on the responses of participants to three of the questions in section 3. .Descriptive statistics will be reported for all variables. A factor analysis will be used to determine predominant factors on the survey. General Linear Model of Univariate analysis of variance will be used to determine if there are statistically significant differences on the survey items by assistant principal years of experience, gender, and school rating. The findings revealed that the characteristics are measured by two constructs; interpersonal and job related skills with a significant difference between males and females assistant principals and their perceived knowledge, skills, and attributes needed for effective leadership. This study will be useful in making recommendations to existing and future Assistant Principals and improving professional development and preparation programs for Assistant Principals both at the district and university level.
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    Transition from Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade and its Impact on Discipline Referrals
    (2012-04-19) Stockton, Karen; Freiberg, Jerome; MacNeil, Angus; Busch, Steve; Amine, Rayyan
    Stockton, Karen. “Transition from Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade and its Impact on Discipline Referrals”. Unpublished Doctor of Education Thesis, University of Houston, May, 2011 ABSTRACT This study investigated the effects of students transitioning from fifth grade elementary to sixth grade middle school on office discipline referrals. When students transition to the next grade, they may face challenges surrounding change, such as anxiety related to bullying or harassing behaviors by older students, stolen items, conflict, and discipline with teachers. The study was drawn from the population of two school campuses within a large southwestern suburban school district in the state of Texas. The sample consisted of 153 students during their fifth grade year in elementary school and the same group of students during their sixth grade year in middle school. Comparisons were made to determine if the transition from elementary to middle school affected students’ discipline data. Archival discipline data measured changes between grade levels. Class schedules were compared from both elementary and middle school documenting the differences in the academic structures. Class schedules were analyzed using qualitative analysis frameworks. The analysis of the data included descriptive statistics regarding the student discipline data by frequency, location and description of incident, and action taken by administration. The analysis of descriptive data determined that discipline referrals increased for the same cohort of 153 students in fifth grade elementary to sixth grade middle school from 28.3 percent to 71.7 percent. Class schedules comparisons revealed that students in fifth grade versus sixth grade have fewer teachers, longer class periods, less transition, and stayed with the same peers all day. In addition, middle school students are allotted five minutes between classes for transition. While elementary students do not have transition times scheduled within their school day, they are given 30 minutes of recess time every day. Implications of this study suggest that further study is needed to address the association between elementary versus middle school discipline referrals and scheduling, and to test ways to mediate the psychological and organizational transitions from elementary to middle school.
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    The Impact of the Professional Development and Appraisal System on the Role of the Principal in Staff Development
    (2012-04-19) Tsang, Tricia; MacNeil, Angus J.; Busch, Steven D.; Emerson, Michael W.; Amine, Rayyan
    This study examines the changing role of the school principal from a managerial position to one now focused on instructional leadership. Specifically, the investigation will examine principals evaluating teachers and providing appropriate staff development. A review of recent literature claims that fewer and fewer school administrators are qualified to take on the role of a school leader (Schools need good leaders now, 2007); thus, many of them do not feel competent enough to evaluate teachers or provide relevant staff development. The nexus of this research comes from a research project that focused on school principals’ thoughts and insights related to their role as a school leader. A convenience sample of 178 principals from the southeast region of Texas responded to a questionnaire in a cognitive interview setting that covered a range of topics, including principals’ views and practices within the context of the Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS), the Texas state-developed and recommended instrument for conducting teacher performance appraisal. The survey also included the principals’ attitudes and thoughts with regards to the importance of staff development, and whether they connect PDAS data to offered staff development courses. Analysis of the responses reveal that principals do not hold strong, central beliefs in the importance of PDAS in assessing the developmental needs of teachers, nor do they agree on the purpose this evaluation tool serves. Principals, however, do share the attitude that their role in professional development is one of the most significant tasks in their principalship. Recommendations include strengthening the method and protocols of PDAS; restructuring the PDAS framework to include more collaboration and the ability to tailor it to meet the needs of teachers; build a stronger relationship with local universities to increase access to professional development opportunities; for principals to include teachers in the creation and implementation of staff development; and to conduct a similar, large-scale survey in other parts of the state and/or other states where teacher evaluations and professional development are mandated. These recommendations are in alignment with the Texas Education Agency’s idea that the purpose of PDAS is to improve student performance through the professional development of teachers. These ideas are not revolutionary, yet there is a disparity that continues between theory and practice, and it is toward the resolution of this inconsistency that the recommendations are proposed to support.
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    (2012-04-19) Cuellar, Kregg; White, Cameron; Liberman, Dov; Busch, Steven; Dance, Dallas
    The study aims to answer the following questions: (1) How do non-disabled students perform academically in a collaborative teaching environment using the method of inclusion in comparison to a traditional non-inclusive learning environment? (2) Does the collaborative teaching inclusion method in a learning environment alter the non-disabled students’ socio-emotional state, with emphasis on behavior and discipline, in comparison to a traditional non- inclusive learning environment? (3) Is there a change in class attendance with non-disabled students in a collaborative teaching inclusion environment in comparison to a traditional non-inclusive learning environment? In order to answer the research questions above, thirty (30) non-disabled students were randomly selected from an HISD High School, fifteen (15) sophomores and fifteen (15) juniors. Student grades in English, Mathematics, Science and their average grade on the three subjects, number of absences, number of disciplinary referrals, ELA/Reading TAKS scaled scores and Math TAKS scaled scores were collected. On the second year, they were all in a classroom with co-teaching and the data for the same set of variables were collected from each of the thirty non-disabled students. Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and Chi-square tests of goodness-of-fit were used to determine if there were significant differences between without co-teaching and with co-teaching in the areas of academic performance (TAKS scores and academic grades in English, Math and Science), attendance (number of absences), and discipline (number of disciplinary referrals). Paired Sample T-Tests were used as Post-Hoc tests on variables found with significant differences via Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). Based on the Repeated Measures ANOVA, Chi Square test of goodness-of-fit and Paired sample T-Tests, the following conclusions were obtained: (1) Students who are non-disabled perform academically better in a collaborative teaching environment using the method of inclusion in comparison to a traditional non-inclusive learning environment in the areas of TAKS ELA/Reading, TAKS Math, average grade (English, Math and Science) and Science grades. However, no significant differences were observed between without co-teaching and with co-teaching on non-disabled students grades in English and Math; (2) The collaborative teaching inclusion learning environment has significantly lower number of disciplinary referrals in comparison to a traditional non-inclusive learning environment; and (3) Attendance by non-disabled students in a collaborative teaching inclusion environment is significantly higher (fewer number of absences) in comparison to a traditional non-inclusive learning environment.
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    Negotiations and Challenges in Creating a Digital Story: The Experience of Graduate Students
    (2012-04-19) Nguyen, Anh; Robin, Bernard; McNeil, Sara; Craig, Cheryl; White, Cameron; Day, Susan
    Digital Storytelling has been popular in various educational contexts as a powerful tool for cognitive and literacy development in the digital age. The creation of a digital story is a complex process in which the creator mobilizes different skills and literacies in order to produce a meaningful multimedia text. Learning occurs at different levels and dimensions when the digital story creator draws upon social cultural knowledge, life experience, and interacts with peers and instructors to work through this multi-staged project. Thus, this is also a process of negotiation. While deciding on the theme, the images, the language and other elements of the digital story, the creator needs to negotiate internal conflicts, relations with the social world and the different modes used to tell the story. Although the large majority of the scholarship on Digital Storytelling features Digital Storytelling as a deep reflective learning device, an effective means of self-representation and an original media genre, few studies have been dedicated to investigating the challenging aspect in creating a digital story (see Kulla-Abbott & Polman, 2008; Nelson & Hull, 2008). This dissertation is a narrative inquiry into the experience of creating a digital story with the concepts of negotiation and challenge at the center. As the digital story creator negotiates to make the choices which are going to be presented in the digital story, they may have to encounter challenges associated with these choices. This dissertation attempts to reconstruct the experience of creating a digital story at various levels. The first level is the analysis of the internal structure of the digital story as a multimodal text in order to learn how each narrative line (voice-over, imagery, music) works, and how the lines work together to create the effects of the story. The second level is the examination of the experience of negotiating for the choices presented in the story and coping with related challenges during the creative process. The third level is the researcher’s study of the themes and patterns of negotiations and challenges emerging from the experience of creating a digital story. This is also the reflection upon personal experience in an endeavor to search for the meaning of that experience in more general and profound dimensions. Finally, conclusions from the examination of the experience raise useful implications and propositions for teaching and evaluation when Digital Storytelling is incorporated into the classroom. Methodologically, the inquiry for this dissertation closely followed three graduate students in their digital story projects in the setting of two linked courses. One focuses on hands-on multimedia technology and the other on the methodology of using popular culture in the classroom. The data collected consist of field notes of class observation, teaching materials on Moodle–the learning managing system used for the linked courses, participants’ postings on the forum of Moodle, personal interviews, and the digital stories created by the participants. Among the primary concepts in the theoretical framework of this dissertation are the functions of narrative from socio cultural, constructivist, and narrative theory perspectives, Digital Storytelling as a means for self-representation and identity formation, narrative inquiry, the narrative version of knowledge, and knowledge community.
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    (2012-04-19) Crowell, Ethan; White, Cameron; Craig, Cheryl; Busch, Stephen; Yuping, Anselm
    The research in this thesis focuses on the experience of one administrator and two teachers in a magnet program with a global studies theme. The research methodology is narrative inquiry and strives to make meaning from the participants experiences in the program and in their classrooms. This experience is collected from storytelling, interviews, and journal writing over the course of a year. The focus of the research is the lived experience of the co-researchers and the “lessons learned” during the development and implementation of a new global studies program and the “re-development” of the same program in a three year window. Attention is paid to multiple stories within the storied flow of the co-researchers and the organizational narrative. The primary researcher is embedded in the research field, and addresses the special challenges of magnet program leadership. Four qualities of narrative inquiry are pursued, they are: (1)research on the boundaries of formalistic research (2) narrative truth (3) knowing through relationship (4) research in the storied midst. Reflection on the magnet school landscape, and the relational connections that affect perceptions of the magnet program both in the school and the broader community is the final piece of this research.
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    Principals' Time Spent Off Campus and Their Perception of its Effectiveness
    (2012-04-19) Takahashi-Kury, Yuka; MacNeil, Angus; Busch, Steven; Emerson, Michael W.; Amine, Rayyan
    An educational leader must perform many roles from being a business manager to instructional leader. Principals are required to be “jacks of all trades” to meet the challenges of today (Shelton, 2008, p. 4). A principal has the most influence in implementing changes and affecting the climate and culture of the educational organization (Anderson, S., Leithwood,K., Louis,K.S., & Wahlstrom, K., 2004; Shelton, S. V., 2009). According to Fuller and Young (2009), the recent research findings indicate that in order to advance and sustain the increased performance of students, it is crucial to have a strong principal in a school to lead the change. This study is a section of a survey study of principals in Houston and surrounding areas in Southeast Texas. The focus is to find out on average how many hours the participants work per week, the average percentage of the time they spend off campus during the week, their perception in whether they feel they are using their time effectively, the emerging themes of what they consider effective use of time and ineffective use of time, and to find out who arranges the mandatory off campus meetings. It is a quantitative survey research with five open-ended questions and one Likert scale question. A mixed methods approach is used to analyze this study. The responses were analyzed using correlational techniques, statistical, and causal-comparative approach. The totals of 178 usable responses were acquired through the use of cognitive interview of each principal. The demographic information of the participants were obtained to further analyze the data based on gender, experience level and experience range of principals, TAKS rating, and the location of school. The result revealed principals’ average working hours were 59.8 hours a week. The average percentage of hours spent off campus was 13.5% a week. Other findings related to the perception of how necessary it is to spend the time off campus, the description of the effective and ineffective use of time off campus, and who arranges the off campus meetings will be useful for the administrators and the school districts in the future.
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    A Study of One Suburban High School's Transformation to Small Learning Communities
    (2012-04-19) Mack, Linda; Prater, Doris L.; Busch, Steven D.; MacNeil, Angus J.; Emerson, Michael W.
    Mack, Linda Farrell. “A Study of One Suburban High School’s Transformation to Small Learning Communities” Unpublished Doctor of Education Doctoral Thesis, University of Houston, May, 2011. ABSTRACT It was once thought that large high schools could offer a range of benefits including student body diversity, more choices for elective courses, greater opportunities for gifted students, and increased competition in the sports arena. Over the last several decades, however, large high schools have been blamed for a host of problems that have kept students, parents, educators, researchers, and policymakers concerned not only for the plight of the public school system in particular, but for the very fabric of American society. This study contributes to the current body of knowledge regarding establishment of more personalized and caring learning environments by examining archived data from one suburban high school over the course of implementation of the small learning communities model. Commonly accepted indicators of successful schools such as student attendance, dropout, discipline, and academic achievement were analyzed to determine if there had been any significant differences in these areas. In addition, the data from this targeted high school were compared to the data from two high schools within the same district that have similar demographics, but were not involved in this reform effort. As a further component to this exploration, parents, students, and teachers were surveyed to determine their beliefs regarding the effectiveness of the model. Results indicate that students at the target school demonstrated improvement on all indicators except attendance, although students at the control schools demonstrated similar gains. Survey results indicated that parents, students, and teachers believe that there had been benefits to the transformation to small learning communities, however, results of this study indicated that this could not be a sole contributing factor impacting student performance at this time.
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    Exploring Relationships Between Secondary School Principals' Gender and Campus Ratings in the Texas Accountability System
    (2012-04-19) Mouton, Sonerka; Warner, Allen; Busch, Steve; Ruban, Lilia; Hutchison, Laveria
    The gender gap in school principal leadership has continued, despite past records of successful leadership by women principals (Mertz, 2006). In the state of Texas, men staggeringly outnumber women in all of the prominent professions in society. Women in Texas make up 77.3 percent of all teachers (Texas Education Agency, 1998); nevertheless, males dominate in the field of education in administration. Research has shown the gender of Texas school principals has been correlated to state mandated testing for student success rates, but has received very little attention. While many studies have supported the evidence that differences in perception exist among men and women with regard to leadership qualities that equate success (Eagly, Karau,
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    Role of Vascular Oxidative Stress in Hypertension
    (2012-04-19) Bhatt, Siddhartha; Lokhandwala, Mustafa F.; Banday, Anees Ahmad; Marwaha, Aditi; Majid, Dewan; Lewis, Russell E.
    Hypertension affects 1 in 3 adult Americans and is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Better understanding of hypertension pathogenesis is important for development of effective therapeutic agents. An important underlying factor present during hypertension is oxidative stress (OS). However, causal role of OS in hypertension is unclear. Increased vascular resistance resulting from enhanced vasoconstriction and impaired vasodilation is a hallmark of hypertension. Enhanced vasoconstriction is associated with increased reactivity to vasoconstrictors such as angiotensin (Ang) II. Ang II-induced vasoconstriction is exaggerated during hypertension and is associated with Ang II type 1 receptors (AT1R) upregulation, the cause of which is unknown. OS modulates redox sensitive transcription factors including nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB), which has been associated with AT1R upregulation. Thus, OS via NFκB can transcriptionally upregulate AT1R. The impaired vasodilation in hypertension is attributed to endothelial dysfunction resulting from attenuated nitric oxide (NO) availability. OS can also contribute to endothelial dysfunction by reducing NO production and increasing NO scavenging. Our objective was to study the role of OS in hypertension development. The first part of the study investigates whether OS is a cause or consequence of hypertension. Studies in 3-4 week old spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) revealed that OS precedes hypertension development and is associated with NFκB activation and AT1R upregulation. Treatment of young SHR with pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, an antioxidant with NFκB inhibitory action, attenuated hypertension development and normalized NFκB and AT1R expression. Experiments in human aortic smooth muscle cells also exhibited OS-induced AT1R upregulation through mechanisms involving NFκB. The second part of the study investigates the role of early oxidative stress in endothelial dysfunction with focus on elucidating role of resveratrol, an antioxidant polyphenol. Our results demonstrate, early resveratrol treatment lowers oxidative stress and reduces NO scavenging and eNOS uncoupling thereby preventing endothelial dysfunction and attenuating hypertension development. In conclusion, early vascular OS in SHR could contribute to hypertension by modulating AT1 receptor upregulation, possibly via NFκB. Additionally, vascular OS could also contribute to endothelial dysfunction by increasing NO scavenging and eNOS uncoupling. Resveratrol treatment lowered oxidative stress, prevented endothelial dysfunction and attenuated hypertension development in SHR.
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    Knowledge and Characteristics of Emerging Mathematics Teacher Leaders: Becoming a School-based Middle School Teacher Leader
    (2012-04-19) Siegmyer, Maryann; Chauvot, Jennifer; Lee, Mimi; Li, Xiaobao; Horn, Catherine; Culpepper, Shea
    Siegmyer, Maryann. “Knowledge and Characteristics of Emerging Mathematics Teacher Leaders: Becoming a School-based Middle School Teacher Leader.” Unpublished Doctor of Education Dissertation, University of Houston, May, 2011. Abstract Mathematics teacher leaders and their capacity to facilitate significant change within secondary mathematics classrooms on a campus is affected by mathematics, pedagogical content, curricular, and contextual knowledge. It is also influenced by teacher leadership characteristics that support clear communication, reflective practices, and the building and maintenance of collegial relationships with peers. Deep understanding of instructional content, of effective practices that foster improved student achievement, and of the coaching process and its practices aids their work with peer teachers. The study’s purpose was to describe perceptions about leadership characteristics held by novice mathematics teacher leaders participating in a middle school master mathematics teacher program. The study participants were candidates from a 17-member cohort in a major urban southwestern university’s 24-month master middle school mathematics teachers program, a collaboration between the departments of curriculum and instruction and mathematics at the university to provide graduate courses and associated embedded practicum-hours for this certification program. Qualitative methodologies were used to infer what characteristics and dispositions do emerging middle school mathematics teacher leaders perceive as important to their work with peer teachers in a school-based learning situation, and the alignment of these perceptions with state and national standards for mathematics educational leaders. The study found that characteristics that all of the participants valued for their future work as school-based teacher leaders were approachable, collaborative, and reflective. Aspects of these three attributes were cited by all, but several also commented about their understanding and valuation of others. These perceptions were in alignment with several of the characteristics prominent in the state’s recommendations regarding the work of mathematics teacher leaders. The participants indicated that other characteristics might develop or be of more value later in their careers. Their understanding of the principles and the action indicators of national standards for mathematics teacher leaders was not as clear. The study provides information of potential value about the development of emerging mathematics teacher leaders to state and national agencies and researchers, to professional development providers, to universities working with pre-service and inservice mathematics teachers, and to individual campuses and school districts.
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    Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Instruction in Primary Reading: The Power of Knowledge and Focused Pedagogy in Eliminating the Achievement Gap for African American Students
    (2012-04-19) Simpson-Butler, Johnna; White, Cameron; Busch, Steven; MacNeil, Angus; Amine, Rayyan
    The purpose of this study is to explore best practices in meeting the needs of African American students in the primary grades and to investigate teachers’ knowledge of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Instruction (CLRI). The mixed method, sequential-explanatory design included the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative portions of the study incorporated cross-sectional, descriptive research to ascertain teachers’ knowledge and perspectives of CLRI, as well as a non-experimental, comparative analysis of African American and Caucasian student performance. Qualitative data collected through a semi-structured discussion group expounded upon the quantitative phases of research. A mixed data analysis integrating all three data sources provided insight into designing effective classroom instruction and addressing the achievement gap. The findings from this research imply that primary educators who endeavor to learn about and value students as individuals, understand each student’s level of progress as a reader, and act upon this collective knowledge with an instructional methodology that influences how students approach new learning will find greater success in meeting the needs of African American students.
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    The Effects of Single Gender Schools on Boys' Self-esteem and Academic Confidence
    (2012-04-19) Morgan, Nicholas; Liberman, Dov; MacNeil, Angus; Busch, Steve; Taylor, Nancy
    Morgan, Nicholas G. “The Effects of Single Gender Schools on Boys’ Self-Esteem and Academic Confidence” Unpublished Doctor of Education Doctoral Thesis, University of Houston, May, 2011. ABSTRACT Boys are falling behind academically in many schools in the United States. Over that past thirty years, girls have surpassed males in academic achievement in all subject areas, including those traditionally thought of as easier for boys (mathematics and science). This achievement shift has been linked to teaching styles and practices in schools today, which often favor rely more heavily on female learning styles (Meyer, 2008). However, single gender schools are combating this sudden lack of academic achievement by teaching boys with techniques and practices thought to be more appropriate for boys learning styles and development. These schools are succeeding with boys on academic scales, but little research has been done on these boys’ self-esteem and academic confidence. Boys in mixed gender schools experiencing constant failure will continue a downward spiral of self-esteem and academic performance. Self-esteem has been widely accepted to be connected with academic success and they have a reciprocal relationship (Hamachek, 1995; Pajares & Schunk, 2001). This study contends that boys in a single gender campus, which focuses on appropriate teaching strategies and practices, will develop higher self-esteem in boys and thus find higher academic achievement. This study included 58 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade boys from two different Catholic parochial schools. The first school is an all-boy single gender campus, in which 39 students participated. The second school is a mixed gender campus with 19 participants. The participants’ self-esteem will be measured with the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, which breaks self-esteem into four subgroups. These subgroups include attitude towards self in social, academic, family, and personal areas of experience. Results of this study do not support the hypotheses that single gender schools would facilitate higher self-esteem in boys. No significant statistical differences were found within the four subscales or overall results. Furthermore, in this study, neither the single gender school nor the mixed gender school showed distinct advantages over the other regarding developing self-esteem. Limitations of this study include the relatively small sample size, the number of years that participants attended the school, only one gender being studied, and the additional family connections within parochial schools.
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    The Perceptions of Principals and Assistant Principals on Their Role in Parental Involvement
    (2012-04-19) Harrist, Lisa; Prater, Doris; MacNeil, Angus; Busch, Steve; Emerson, Michael W.
    Rios-Harrist, Lisa. "The Perceptions of Principals and Assistant Principals on Their Role in Parental Involvement." Unpublished Doctor of Education Thesis, University of Houston, May 2011. Abstract This study examines the beliefs of school principals and assistant principals regarding the role of parents in the educational process of their children. Henderson and Berla (1994) indicated that parental involvement was linked to higher student achievement. The purpose of the study was to determine the perceptions of principals and assistant principals in regard to their role in parental involvement. The study analyzed archival data of two surveys collected from 310 principal participants and 374 assistant principal participants from the Gulf Coast Region of Southeast Texas. The data was collected through cognitive interviewing and traditional survey techniques. The study analyzed survey responses of three open-ended questions and one Likert-type response. Sixty-four percent of principals and sixty-six percent of assistant principals reported that a high level of parental involvement is appropriate and necessary. These strong beliefs held constant across school levels, school geographic areas, and TEA school accountability ratings. Elementary principals (47.0%) and assistant principals (35.2%) of the “High Level of Parental Involvement” category tended to place more value on the importance of parental involvement. Principals (51.0%) in the suburban school geographic area and assistant principals (53.8%) in the urban school geographic area of the “High Level of Parental Involvement” category placed more value on the importance of parental involvement. Principals (47.0%) and assistant principals (50.0%) at campuses with an Acceptable TEA Accountability Rating of the “High Level of Parental Involvement” category placed more value on the importance of parental involvement. Principals revealed 18 strategies and assistant principals revealed 21 strategies they utilize to encourage parental involvement on campus. The most frequent strategies used by principals and assistant principals included the following: Events (62.3%), (46.8%) Communication (55.0%), (58.6%), PTA or PTO (19.4%), (9.6%), and Volunteering (11.3%), (8.0%), respectively. The results of this study are relevant to current administrators, aspiring administrators, and administrator preparation programs. In addition, this study provides a more comprehensive profile of the perceptions of principals and assistant principals in relation to their role in parental involvement. Access to and understanding of such factors may greatly impact the professional development and training of educational leaders, principals, and assistant principals.
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    Principal Descriptions of a Good School and the Culture of a Good School
    (2012-04-19) Williams, Bryan; Busch, Steven; MacNeil, Angus; Emerson, Michael W.; Klussmann, Duncan
    The purpose of this study is to report the voices of practicing principals about good schools and their descriptions regarding the culture of good schools. The study is significant because the current emphasis in education regarding the assessment based accountability has made it a priority for administrators to increase student achievement and the quality of schools for all students. Good schools with a healthy culture and climate increase student achievement, attract and maintain quality teachers, promote parental and community involvement, and are student-centered. Since leadership is critical and instrumental to school reform and is second only to school-related factors in its impact on student learning, educational leaders must understand the importance they play in impacting positive climates and achievement-oriented cultures. School leaders play a critical role in what they pay attention to and value as they foster the culture of a good school. For this study, 311 practicing campus principals from a large, Gulf Coast metropolitan area were interviewed. The survey utilized cognitive interviews and the items measured the principals’ perceptions regarding the importance of good schools as well as their descriptions of the culture of good schools. The results from both research questions identified six categories that principals indicated were the characteristics of good schools and their cultures. These categories are as follows: (1) Academic Focus, (2) Student-Centered, (3) Professional Development, (4) Parent and Community Involvement, (5) Positive Climate, and (6) Strong Leadership. Academic Focus was the top rated category identified by principals as a characteristic of a good school and the culture of a good school. A difference in response rates was found between all six categories and gender, years of experience as a campus principal, and by campus level. Female campus principals, principals with 0-5 years of experience, and elementary campus principals consistently identified the six categories as a characteristic of a good school and the culture of a good school more frequently than their colleagues.